by Fred McMillin
Winery of the Week
Ficklin Plays to Win
1941—"The superior Port wine grapes of Portugal's Douro Valley have been extensively described and recommended by the faculty [at U.C.-Davis]. It is unquestionably true that California Port as good as much of that shipped out of Portugal could be made from these grapes if grown in the warmer districts of the state."
...by the legendary Frank Schoonmaker in American Wines
1948—"Tucked away at the end of an uncertain road southwest of Madera in the hot Central Valley is the small Ficklin Winery. Partly in response to a University of California challenge to import and grow Port grapes from the Douro Valley, the Ficklin family has embarked on a Port-only program from those grapes,obtained from the University."
...from California Wine, Sunset Publishers
The Rest of the Story
Was Schoonmaker right? Here's what the critics said. 1955—"The first winery in the United States to make Port entirely from choice Portuguese varieties, Ficklin Port is unsurpassed in quality and character with a full richness of flavor."
...Author John Melville, Guide to California Wines
1982—"The Ficklin family has consistently made, with supreme skill, over more than 30 years, absolutely the finest port-type wines in the United States."
...Roy Andries De Groot, The Wines of California
1984—"David Ficklin knows every cask, oval, and barrel as a parent knows his children, and like children, some day they would mature and be married into a blend that will rank with the finest. David's son Peter, now in his twenties, is the third generation to continue along the winemaker's path."
Robert Lawrence Balzer, California Wines
Just the Facts
How tastes change. When Ficklin was founded, Americans drank three bottles of Port and Sherry for every one of table wine such as "Pinot Chardonnay" or Zinfandel.
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